12 August 2022
Nuku’alofa – The Prime Minister, the Honorable Hu’akavameiliku, today accepted the decisions of the Court of Appeal in the case of three Cabinet Ministers, who have now lost their Parliamentary seats.
Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Poasi Tei, Member for Tongatapu 6 and also the Minister for MEIDECC; Finance Minister Hon Tatafu Moeaki, Member for Tongatapu 4 and the Minister for Internal Affairs Hon Sangster Saulala, Member for Tongatapu 7 appealed against their bribery convictions in the lead up to the November 2021 General Election.
However, their appeals were dismissed by the Appeals Court, who declared their elections are void.
The three Cabinet Ministers separately appealed against orders of the Supreme Court on election petitions, brought by different petitioners under the Electoral Act, challenging the validity of their election on grounds of acts of bribery to induce voters in the lead-up to the November 2021 General Election.
They were earlier successful in obtaining stays of unseating while their appeals were heard.
Although the Appeal Court set aside some of the bribery offences, other bribery offences were upheld.
The Hon Prime Minister said all due processes were followed and the three Cabinet Ministers used the opportunities available to them by law.
“The judgements by the Appeals Court has now been made against them and we accept that. The decision is respected and we will abide by them. Government respects the Appeal Court Judgement while moving forward with its Administration. Although it is tough losing three senior members of Cabinet at this time, we will have to find replacements and continue with the work that needs to be done,” the Hon Hu’akavameiliku stated.
He also thanked the three Cabinet Ministers for their contribution to Government and the people of Tonga.
“I would like to personally thank them and also on behalf of Government and the people of Tonga extend our gratitude for their service to Tonga and her people,” the Hon Prime Minister said.
A Special Court of Appeal session, held last month, were released late Tuesday afternoon (August 9, 2022) in Nuku’alofa, by Justice White, Justice Estcourt and Justice de Jersey.